Spaceputers, robolights, and radar beams!

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Garmin’s launched a trio of products today that are making us wonder exactly which century we woke up in this morning. Spaceputers, robolights, and radar beams? It’s like the future, now! (Complete with global warming…)

Varia Rearview Bike Radar

We’ll skip the doom and gloom statistics bit that Garmin is using to promote the Varia Rearview Radar – you all know sharing the road with motorised lumps of iron comes with risks attached, right? – and instead focus on the fact that science is finally doing something to help cyclists take responsibility for their own safety in situations where frequently looking over your shoulder isn’t always enough. Hurrah!


The Rearview Bike Radar is (like the name suggests) a rear-view radar system, which alerts the cyclist using it to vehicles approaching her/him from behind. The seatpost-mounted sensor uses a radar transmitter which can detect vehicles from up to 140 metres away, and gives the rider a heads-up via a handlebar-mounted display. The sensor doubles up as a rear light, which automatically brightens as a vehicle approaches, and it can cope with up to eight vehicles at a time.

The rearward-facing sensor…
…and the display.

Hopefully we’ll get hold of a test unit, as we’re curious to know whether or not the radar can ‘see’ round corners – which is definitely a skill we lack – and how it copes with, for example, a multiple-lane junction where you get vehicles approaching from multiple trajectories and speeds. Here’s Garmin’s promo video for the Varia Rearview – though be warned, they have (perhaps unsurprisingly) gone with scare tactics…

Varia Smart Bike Lights

These lights are designed to work in conjunction with a compatible Garmin Edge GPS unit, which talks to the lights to tell them what speed you’re travelling at, so the lights can adjust their output accordingly. The front light projects its light beam further ahead as speed increases and trims it back as you slow; the rear light increases in intensity as you slow, acting like a sort of brake light. When paired with the all-singing all-dancing Edge 1000, both lights can also tweak their output to suit the amount of ambient light you’re riding in.

Smart lights!
From the ‘industrial spacejunk’ school of aesthetics, though.

This isn’t the first responsive and ‘intelligent’ lighting system we’ve seen – Exposure Lights and Lumicycle both have units which sense speed and adjust output accordingly – but we think it’s the first to use ‘measured’ speed, rather than just an accelerometer, to do it.

Edge 520

Lastly, here’s something that’s more recognisably Garmin: a new Edge GPS. Garmin says it’s the first GPS bike computer to include Strava Live Segments, so you’ll be able to see whether or not you’ve got that Q/KOM on the spot and go back for another go if not.

Provisional or not, we’ll take that…


It’s also socially connected with on-board social media sharing, Live Track and smart notifications; it has “advanced analysis features” of the sort you’d normally see on a dedicated power meter, including time in zone, functional threshold power, cycling-specific VO2 max and recovery time. and it is, of course, GPS/GLONASS compatible and comes complete with a hi-res colour screen.

No surprise then that the 520 has been tagged “Your Competitive Edge” by Garmin. Strava heroes, apply here…

Jenn Hill was the deputy editor here at Singletrack up until her untimely death from Lung Cancer in October 2015. She was and remains an inspiration to us all here at Singletrack. Jenn Hill - 1977-2015

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Comments (3)

    The RADAR thing is nifty, would be better with a display which didn’t require interpretation – little LEDs that mean “something” are a bit of a design no-no.

    Still, good work Garmin.

    I suspect when driverless cars are common and feature vehicle to vehicle networking, we can tie this to them so they also know where we are better. Oh, and trucks…. sigh.

    following on from the last will the display feature an ahghhghh mode for when some idiot is about to drive over the top of us – got clipped by a wing mirror the other day – not sure if being warned I was about to be whacked would have helped, but it does appear to be a good idea that could be integrated

    But if they don’t/can’t see you what difference will a wee flashing red light make? It’s not far off the “Child on Board!” stickers.

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